Junto: Learning & Entrepreneurship

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Curse is Back

Last night, I had another run in with "the curse"...I woke up at 3:30 am and couldn't get back to sleep until 5 am. (It couldn't have come at a more inconvenient time; I have been sleep-deprived all week from a nagging cold and a newborn baby!) However, I am always grateful for the enlightenment that comes to me in the middle of the night -- they always seem to be my best ideas. Luckily, I had my Blackberry next to my bed so that I could write my ideas down.

Last night, I had a great idea on how to track the contacts that are happening on our site. Before now, we've had a pretty good idea of which entrepreneurs were contacted through FundingUniverse.com, however, in the future we will know for certain.

Tracking is a very important part of the success of any internet company. Track page views, unique visitors, new subscriptions, success stories, etc. The most successful companies know what key metrics to track -- I think that is why Omniture's web-analytics software has been so successful.

MWCN Top Utah 100

Yesterday, I attended the Mountain West Capital Network luncheon at the Grand America. They announced the Top 100 Utah companies based upon revenue and growth. It was exciting to see that the LoveSac Corporation led the group as the #1 company in Utah.

Shawn Nelson, their founder and CEO, is one of our Junto mentors (he also won Richard Branson's Rebel Billionaire competition last year). Shawn is a terrific example of a passionate businessman. It is apparent that he loves what he does and much of their success is a result of that passion.

One of the main reasons that I chose to join FundingUniverse.com is because I am passionate about helping entrepreneurs get the funding that they need. While I know that we aren't going to help everyone that posts a business plan on our site, if we are contributing to the success of a few, it will be worth it.

Anyway...Congrats Shawn!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

What's most important to your customers?

Here is an email that I sent to my team:

I was reading the official "Google" blog and I found some interesting comments that I believe are applicable to what we are doing:

"We had a lot of ideas, but first we spent a lot of time talking to all kinds of people about their email. They let us watch over their shoulders and helped us really understand how they use email and what they need from it. We didn't want to simply bolt new features onto old interfaces. We needed to rethink email, but at the same time we needed to respect that email already had over 30 years of history, thousands of existing programs, and nearly a billion users. So we started by learning which features were most important, and which problems were most aggravating. We also realized that solving everyone's problems was too big of a challenge for the first release. It would be better to build a product that a lot of people love, than one that everyone tolerates, and so that was our goal." http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2005/10/guess-what-just-turned-34.html

Per our discussion on Friday on how to help more entrepreneurs get funded...I think that we need to find out which features are most important and which problems are most aggravating to investors. How can we assist them in being more active? I love our ideas about training the entrepreneurs through the point system and highlighting more the entrepreneur and not the business plan (the reason that I like them so much is because they are aligned with the research in the book Angel Investing). As we help our investors get to know our entrepreneurs, I think magical things will happen.

Anyway...thanks for all you do. If we keep it up, we will be an overnight success in a few years!

Friday, October 21, 2005

FundingUtah.com in Connect Magazine

FundingUtah.com was the cover article of the September issue of Connect Magazine. I think that they did a wonderful job...if you are interested, here is the link to the article.

Speed pitching idea...

In an effort to help entrepreneurs connect with angel investors, we have brainstormed the idea to do a FundingUtah.com speedpitching event. If any of you have seen the movie Hitch, you will remember the speed dating scene. This event will very similar only we will be selling our businesses, not a date!

Ten entrepreneurs will give five-minute pitches to several groups of 3-5 accredited angel investors rotating in a fast-paced, musical chairs style. After the end of the event, entrepreneurs will be available for question and answer sessions on an individual basis.

I am anxious to see the results of the event... we have already recieved quite a few registrants. If you have any other innovative ideas to help entrepreneurs connect with angel investors, let me know.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Exciting week! (and the result of THE CURSE)

Last week was one of the best weeks of my entire life. First things first: my beautiful baby boy Jackson was born on Tuesday October 11. What an amazing experience! Both mom and baby are doing great. Having a baby definitely puts your life into perspective of to what is most important.

In a previous blog ("The Curse"), I spoke about waking up in the middle of the night with new ideas and excitement for a business opportunity. Since then, many people have asked me what the opportunity was. Well, here it is:

I finalized an agreement to join the FundingUniverse.com team. FundingUniverse.com is a matching service for angel investors and entrepreneurs. The company already has some traction and trajectory and I look forward to contributing to its success.

There you have it...my new baby boy and my dream job...all in one week!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Value of Partnerships

Over the past few months, I have really learned a lot about the value of partnerships. While having capable and competent partners is very important, that is not the kind of partnership that I am referring to... I am referring to strategic partnerships.

As a start-up company, there are many tasks that require your attention; developing the product, marketing the product, keeping your clients happy, etc. Instead of staying up late worrying about how to stay afloat, you may want to consider partnering with another company to extend your reach and accomplish more.

At FundingUniverse, most of our projects include a partnerships with other companies. Not only will the partnerships add credibility to what we are doing, it will save us time and money by not re-inventing the wheel.